March 1, 2024

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TurboTax isn't allowed to say it's “free” anymore

TurboTax isn't allowed to say it's “free” anymore

The Federal Trade Commission has taken action against TurboTax, issuing a final ruling to request Which prevents the company from describing its services as “free” when most customers end up upgrading to paid services.

Parent company Intuit advertised TurboTax as “Free, free, free“, even though the majority of customers were in fact ineligible for the free services. The Federal Trade Commission sued TurboTax in 2022 over misleading advertising, and the FTC's chief administrative law judge announced a preliminary decision in September. saying Intuit “engaged in deceptive advertising in violation of Title 5 of the FTC Act.”

“The nature of the past abuses is terrible.”

“The nature of past abuses is egregious. For at least six years, Intuit blanketed the nation with deceptive advertising to taxpayers across multiple media channels,” the committee says in its latest report. opinion.

The FTC's final order, issued on January 19, Intuit Bars It is better to say that any of its goods or services are free unless they are free everyone Customers or unless the Company clearly displays the percentage of eligible consumers or discloses that the majority of consumers are not actually eligible. Now, TurboTax says nearly 37 percent of filers qualify for the “free” basic level of tax filing assistance.

“The order also sends a message across the industry — 'free' means free — not 'free for a few' or 'free for some,'” Samuel Levin, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement. statement yesterday.

Intuit is appealing the FTC's decision. “There is no financial penalty in the FTC order, and Intuit expects no significant impact to its business,” the company said in a statement. statement yesterday.

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Intuit agreed to pay $141 million in compensation to about 4.4 million customers in 2022 after New York Attorney General Letitia James. is found “Intuit defrauded millions of low-income Americans out of the free tax filing services to which they were entitled.”

If you've been hesitant to use TurboTax, there's some hope on the horizon. The IRS is release Its free tax filing software is called Direct File this year. It's available as a beta in 12 states, and the IRS says it's “expected to be more widely available in mid-March.”